coral reefs

FWC Corals Program

Five years ago, a new coral disease was found right off downtown Miami. It has now spread through the Florida reef tract, from Martin County down past Key West. In response, scientists are taking unprecedented measures to make sure some coral survives, at least in captivity.

Environmental Protection Agency

When Key West city commissioners approved a ban on the sale of some sunscreens, some said it wasn't just to protect the reef that has protected the island for centuries.

Commissioner Jimmy Weekley said Key West is leading the continental U.S., and is already receiving global attention for its action.

"Key West, the 3-by-5-mile island, is going to take a major step to help preserve our environment — the environment of every citizen of the world," he said.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West has become the first place in the mainland U.S. to ban the sale of sunscreens containing two chemicals that have been found in some studies to harm corals.

"There are thousands and thousands of various alternative sunscreens that can be used. But we only have one reef," said Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, one of the sponsors of the ordinance.

It won final approval by a 6-1 vote Tuesday night.

Courtesy Andrew Bruckner / NOAA

After stony coral tissue loss disease reached the Lower Keys last spring, the disease seemed to stall. Reef scientists were hoping that meant it might peter out.

But it didn't.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The city of Key West took the first step Tuesday toward becoming the first place on the mainland U.S. to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain certain chemicals, like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which some studies have shown can harm corals. 

NOAA

Over the summer, Hawaii became the first place in the United States to ban sunscreens with chemicals that have been found to harm corals. Now Key West is considering a similar ban. And a group opposing the ban is fighting back — online.

If you're in Key West and open a video on YouTube, there's a new ad on heavy rotation.

The Ocean Agency

Time is running out to save the world’s coral reefs from irreversible damage, according to numerous studies

Wikimedia / Creative Commons

It's a good idea to protect your skin with sunscreen when you're out on the water.

But protecting reefs means giving up some of the most common sunscreens that can harm corals. Studies have found that some ingredients, especially oxybenzone and octinoxate, are harmful even in very small quantities.

Across New York City, more than 70 restaurants are tossing their oyster shells not into the trash or composting pile, but into the city's eroded harbor. It's all part of Billion Oyster Project's restaurant shell-collection program.

Force Blue

A new group is using what they learned in the military to fight threats to South Florida's coral reefs.

Riane Roldan / WLRN NEWS

They call themselves the coral whisperers: a global band of scientists working together to save the world's coral reefs.

The captain of a charter boat carrying government scientists on an environmental research cruise near the Keys has been cited for violating environmental regulations.

At Mote Marine Lab's Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration in the Florida Keys, Joey Mandara is like a baby sitter. But instead of children he tends to thousands of baby corals, growing in large, shallow tanks called raceways.

Mote has been doing this work for five years, raising corals from embryos into adult colonies, then planting them on Florida's reefs. Now, the emergence of a new, debilitating coral disease makes his work more important than ever.

Jack Fishman

Sofas, refrigerators, pipes and lobster traps all wound up littering the Keys reef and backcountry flats after Hurricane Irma blew through in September.

Now the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary wants to deploy volunteer divers to remove the debris.

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